Peak Car, Cloud Commuting, Gram Junkies, Green Tourism, Caloryville

Here are ten stories on all things mobility that I posted too soon. I have a hunch they will resonate better now than when they were written.

Is Peak Car Headed For Seneca’s Cliff? (2017)
Sharing platforms enable new relationships between people, goods, equipment, and spaces. The consequence? The notion of mobility as a discrete economic sector no longer makes sense. News that Ikea is buying Task Rabbit is further confirmation of this convergence.(This text based on my keynote at Seoul Smart Mobility International Conference)

From Bike Chain to Blockchain: Three Questions About Cooperation Platforms and Mobility (2015)

Until now, transportation has been planned to ‘save’ time. In this age of energy transition, would a better criterion not be, how to save calories? Who should own mobility sharing platforms: private companies? cities? us? What kind of ecosystem is needed to support the sharing platforms we want? 
 Read More »

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When Value Arises From Relationships, Not From Things

The following interview with Valentina Croci appears in the March 2018 special edition on innovation of Domus magazine . The print edition is in Italian and English, but does not include all the illustrations I’ve used here). 

Q1 The consumerist model and our fossil resources have been stretched to their limits. What could be an alternative model of production?

Innovation can help us reign in the over-extraction of  resources. This seafood tracing platform is being developed by @provenance

JT   I’ve come to an inconvenient conclusion: production is not the purpose of life. I say inconvenient because many of us depend on industrial production, and its many support services, to earn the money we need to pay for daily life needs. But because the global economy has to grow just to survive, its hunger for energy and materials is insatiable. The growing complexity of it all is resource-hungry, too — think of all those interconnected global supply chains.

This conflict between a perpetual growth economy, and the biophysical limits of a living planet, is why the perpetual search for new forms of production – whether ‘clean’, ‘green’ or ‘circular’ – is not where our future lies. Read More »

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“Whatever Makes Your Dough Rise” – Work-In-Progress 2018


Learning the phrase “Whatever Makes Your Dough Rise” was one  of many gifts I brought back from a Fellows’ retreat last week at the Good Work Institute in the US. Here is an update on my recent texts, talks and xskool workshops.

XSKOOL WORKSHOPS 2018
Our xskools  are about city people reconnecting with the land and rural communities at the scale of the bioregion.

Grottole, Italy
In southern Italy, we’re working with @CasaNetural on ways to unlock value with-and-for the people of Grottole. Read More »

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Connecting the “what is?” with the “what if?”

“The future will be all about cities” – say people who live in cities. Our xskools, in contrast, are about reconnecting with rural communities and looking, together, for ways ways to unlock value. Check out our updated xskool page.

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Is Peak Car Headed for Seneca’s Cliff?

This text follows my recent keynote at Seoul Smart Mobility International Conference. The author thanks 
Seoul Design Foundation and @Seoul_gov  for their invitation. I also thank XuanZheng Wang, professor, China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), for alerting me to the @Mobike developments.

Two hundred people per second now climb onto a dockless bike somewhere in China; the blue dots (above) denote transactions in Shanghai.

Considering that dockless bike sharing platforms were only launched two years ago, in 2015, this growth rate is remarkable.

The biggest company, Mobike, already operates more than seven million bikes in 160 cities Read More »

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From Gut to Gaia: The Internet of Things and Earth Repair

The following text appears in the inaugural edition of Ding, a new magazine about the Internet and things, published by the Mozilla Foundation. Ding will be launched at MozFest in London on 27-29 October.

On a recent visit to @IAAC in Barcelona, I was charmed by their Smart Citizen platform that enables citizens to monitor levels of air or noise pollution around their home or business.

The system connects data, people and knowledge based on their location; the device’s low power consumption allows it to be placed on balconies and windowsills where power is provided by a solar panel or battery.

Smart Citizen is just one among a growing array of devices that can sense everything from the health of a tomato in Brazil, to bacteria in the stomach of a cow in Perthshire – remotely. 

Low-cost sensing technologies allow citizens to assess the state of distant environments directly. We can also measure oil contamination in our local river with a smartphone. Thousands of people are monitoring the air they breathe using Air Quality Eggs.

This innovation is intriguing, but leaves a difficult question unanswered: Under what circumstances will possession of this data contribute to the system transformation that we so urgently need?

Read More »

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john chris jones at 90

jcjones_i&e.png
I’m reposting the piece below to celebrate the 9oth birthday (on 7 October) of john chris jones. For jones, writing and living are still intertwined in a sublime but grounded way.

I’ve been re-reading “the internet and everyone” by john chris jones.

I’ve been astonished once again by the sensibility of an artist-writer-designer whose philosophy – indeed his whole life – first inspired me when I was a young magazine editor more than 30 years ago.

Like another muse of mine, Ivan Illich, John Chris Jones was decades ahead of his time. The time is ripe now for a wider readership.

He wrote about cities without traffic signals in the 1950s – sixty years before today’s avant garde urban design experiments.

In the 1960s, Jones was an advocate of what today is called ‘design thinking’; (then, it was called design methods).

He advocated user-centered design well before the term was widely used. He began by designing aeroplanes – but soon felt compelled to make industrial products more human. This quest fuelled his search for design processes that would shape, rather than serve, industrial systems.

As a kind of industrial gamekeeper turned poacher, Jones went on to warn about the potential dangers of the digital revolution unleashed by Claude Shannon.

Computers were so damned good at the manipulation of symbols, he cautioned, that there would be immense pressure on scientists to reduce all human knowledge and experience to abstract form.

Technology-driven innovation, Jones foresaw, would under-value the knowledge and experience that human beings have by virtue of having bodies, interacting with the physical world, and being trained into a culture.

Read More »

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Back To The Land 2.0
 – A Design Agenda For Bioregions

What’s needed is a new story in which care for the places where we live is a practical focus for solidarity. In that spirit, a series of xskool workshops called Back To The Land 2.0 brought local actors together, in diverse locations, to flesh out this new story of place with live examples. The text below (it’s about 4,000 words, a 20 minute read) is about the lessons we have  learned so far. It builds on the course we helped run at Schumacher College a year ago and in June. (Illustration above: Terre de Liens)

1. Why we need a new story

We are cognitively impaired by a metabolic rift between our culture and the earth. Paved surfaces, and pervasive media, shield us from direct experience of the damage our actions inflict on soils, oceans, air, and forests. A unique epoch of energy and resource abundance added zest to a story of growth, and progress and development, that put the interests of ‘the economy’ above all other concerns

The comforting narrative of perpetual growth has now hit biophysical and financial constraints – and we all feel it. Only 15% of the global population feel that the system is working and ecoanxiety—the feeling of impending environmental doom—afflicts populations on a global scale.

This is why post-truth’ politics should be described as pre-truth politics. In this time between stories, populists have picked up on our justified anxiety – but divert our attention from the root but invisible causes of our predicament. It’s easier to blame a Muslim, than entropy.

But a new picture is now emerging in myriad projects around the world. Read More »

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of Druids, Biorefineries, Adventure Sport, Ecomuseums, Code Clubs…

I’ve been invited by Pontio Innovation to make a return visit to North West Wales and continue our exploration of Innovation In Small Nation. On Tuesday 6 June I’m doing a public talk, too: here is the announcement.

Pic Bruce Adams

BACK TO THE LAND 2.0
Tuesday 6 June, 18:30h Main Lecture Theatre, Level 5, Pontio, Bangor, Gwynedd.

Are innovations in adventure sport a signal of transformation in the global health and wellness industry? If the health of people, and the places where we live, are connected, what kinds of business can help them thrive together?

With its own unique assets, North West Wales has the potential to lead the world as a living laboratory for innovation where adventure sport, tourism, and wellness meet. To realise this potential, and turn ideas into new livelihoods and enterprise, the region’s assets need to be combined and connected in new ways.

But how? Read More »

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